Project of the Week: Pakistan
A spiritual breath for a youth apostolate in Faisalabad
Published on line February 27, 2020
Roughly half of the 207 million people who make up the population of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are under the age of 25, and one third of these are actually aged 14 or younger. Young Christians, living in a society that is 97% Muslim, face many more and much greater challenges than their Muslim counterparts. In fact, for many Christians it is almost impossible to advance professionally within society. And, the religious minorities such as the Christians find themselves in, the lowest strata of society, Most having to work as street sweepers, labourers, or domestic employees.
A Christian name can be enough to block one’s access to higher studies. Non-Muslims are in effect seen as second-class citizens, not full Pakistani citizens. They are even unfavourably portrayed in official school textbooks, and the many services performed by Christians on behalf of the country are passed over in silence. Islam is promoted in almost every area of the curriculum, most notably in the selection of essay topics. Christian pupils are often insulted and excluded, or else pressured to convert to Islam. For Christian girls it is even worse, since they are doubly discriminated against, because of their gender. And young Christian girls face a very real danger of being abducted and forcibly married to their abductors – also meaning: being forcibly converted to Islam.
2020: Year of Youth!
In response to this situation, the Catholic Church in Pakistan is working very hard to encourage Christian youth to take pride in their faith and give confident and capable answers whenever they are confronted with prejudice and ignorance. Many Catholic children also attend one of the many Church-run Sunday schools, but the older teenagers also need guidance and support in living their faith. So it was that in November 2019 the Catholic Church in Pakistan announced a “Year of Youth” for this 2020 year, which will contain a range of different initiatives.
The Youth Commission of the diocese of Faisalabad is seeking support for its youth apostolate program. Its aim: to strengthen young Catholic women and men in their faith and help them to stand firm – and find their rightful place in society. ACN is supporting this initiative with a contribution of $10,725.